A Life-Course Perspective on Girls’ Criminality

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Abstract

This chapter explores the female patterning of crime and factors that differentiate between these patterns. The theoretical frame considers the developmental course of criminality and some common developmental pathways or trajectories. This perspective is concerned with identifying factors across people’s lives that account for both stability and change in antisocial behavior and crime. The family, school, and peer groups, expressed in social bonds and social networks, are the dominant sources of social control during childhood and adolescence and although childhood oppositional behavior tends to attenuate these important sources of social control, this is not invariably the case. The chapter has a special focus on a female pattern of crime that has not previously been given so much attention in research, namely an adulthood-onset trajectory. The overall aim is to contribute to a better understanding of factors that contribute to the development of different criminal careers among females by studying individual and social characteristics and how such factors interact to change and shape criminal involvement over two critical developmental phases: early adolescence and the transition into young adulthood for a cohort of Swedish girls.